The Imperial Wrecking Crew

The Beginning

A Cute Romantic Story That is Trying to be Funny

Balystia waited for the Inquisitor’s acolytes to leave the tent before she sat on the large, mahogany bench. The inside of the tent reminded her of the temple she squired at back in Easton. It was conservatively decorated with scarlet draping and the Golden Gauntlet. The bench itself was carved in the form of one of Tempus’ steeds.
She began to play with her long chestnut plait nervously. They had not spoken in over a year, and even then their meetings were brief and professional. Completely professional she reminded herself. Onyxia had always teased her about the way she looked at him. It meant nothing, Balystia told herself again. He was the Inquisitor, the avatar of their god, the embodiment of honor and righteousness, and a strong protector of the weak, and… and… he was naked.
The Paladin stared wide eyed at the sight before her. It had never occurred to her that the purification ritual would require him… that way.
“Your Holiness… um…” She felt herself attempt to stand then quickly sit down again as she realized gravity was somehow stronger all of a sudden; her gaze still unable to turn away.
She did not realize he was blushing.
He cleared his throat, and began to put on a simple Cleric’s vestment. “I apologize; I did not realize it was you Dame Thornwood.”
“I…er…um,” She still could not speak.
The inquisitor smiled timidly. Nothing about his frame could be described as timid: the dignity of a prince and the hands of a farmer. She knew the code commanded the Inquisitor to do the work of the common man to assist the villages he visited. She had never felt humbled and… what was this feeling. She was positive Roy had read them a poem about something like this before. She tried to stop thinking again. The Inquisitor would never do anything out of one of those poems. She shook of a wave of disappointment.
“I apologize for not sending notice.” She managed respectfully.
He attempted to break the tension by pouring them a drink.
She took it gratefully, and gulped down the ale. Hoping to find whatever courage came at the bottom of the glass.
“I am sorry I do not have something more becoming of your stat-.” He looked somewhat puzzled at the sight of her guzzling the goblet. “Though I am glad it does not offend you.”
She felt sheepish again, and smiled awkwardly as he sat down beside her on the bench.
“This is very nice”, she began. “Do you always have such nice accommodations?”
He took a sip of his ale. “When it is possible, I do. I have to admit I am partial to cushions. Though, as you know, war and work does not always allow such things.”
“Ha! It certainly beats sleeping on the ground, waking up to encampment raids, praying that the bard is nearby to help you with your armor.”
He paused. “Roy helps you with…”
“We it’s not like there are a lot of volunteers to help me with that sort of thing; especially since Nixy went back to her apprenticeship, and I know Ciara would help me gladly, but she always does the shoulders too tight – “
“Lucky bard,” he muttered quietly.
“Huh?”
“Nothing, you were saying?”
“Your Holiness…”
“Jonathon.”
She looked at him confusedly. “Jonathon.” It did not seem right to her to say it. She knew his name. She actually knew more about him than most, and it somehow made her less secure.
They sat staring at the floor finishing their ale.
Her thoughts tumbled through a thousand scenarios of what they should be talking about or doing other than coddling their cups of ale in awkward silence. Even Roy’s poems made her more comfortable than the air in the room felt… She was thinking about the poems again, and his sandy blond hair. He had pretty hair. She blushed.
“Jonathon?”
“Yes?”
“You wouldn’t have anything stronger would you?”
He stood up with a flourish and recovered a decanter of whiskey from a small cabinet in the corner.
“The Dame of Easton enjoys ale and whiskey.”
“Briar,” she corrected.
“Briar.” He smiled at her sheepishly again.
“I met with Tempus earlier,” she interjected quickly; proud of herself for finding a non Nixy-approved topic.
“Indeed. He would not miss such a great battle.”
“True, it will be.” She grew quiet again. “Jonathon?”
“Yes Briar?”
“Do you wonder what will happen?” She began to regret the conversation. She was a paladin, and was always ready to lay down her life in battle and Tempustian glory. But for the first time, she felt real fear, and she was not sure where it came from, or what she was truly afraid of.
“Of course, it is hard to imagine what awaits us.”
“Are you afraid?”
“Not of death.”
“Then what are we afraid of?” She was immediately embarrassed by the question. She felt him stiffen uncomfortably next to her. They both took a lengthy swig of whiskey.”
“Spiders,” he finally answered.
“Spiders?”
“Yes, spiders… Not the big ones, the little ones that come into your tent at night and crawl on your toes whiles you are trying to sleep… I hate those.”
She could not help it… She laughed. She laughed so hard she could barely stay seated. “Really? Spiders? The great Inquisitor that shall judge the wicked and shred their soul is afraid of a little tree spider?”
“I never said I could not remain calm. I just don’t want to wake up half paralyzed from spider venom. At any rate, it is your turn.” He smiled, sipping his drink.
“My turn?”
“Yes, what are you afraid of?”
“Well I was afraid of you judging me, but now I know I can just carry a spider around, and that won’t be problem.”
He rolled his eyes, and gave a wry smile. “Ha… ha… Seriously, what is your fear?”
“Right now,” she looked down at the half empty decanter. “That His Royal Holiness will discover that I am drinking all his whiskey.”
He took the decanter from her gently. “While I am not worried about the spirits, I do worry that you will not be in fighting shape tomorrow.”
Her head felt heavy, and her vision blurred. “I am perfectly fine,” she insisted; attempting to stand. Her balance was lost quickly, as she stumbled back onto the bench, as he caught her.
“Perfectly fine?”
“Aside from the fact that the man that I am dreaming about, and who also happens to be chaste, and who I just saw in glory, currently holding my waist, and oh Tempus do I need to stop drinking.” Blush burned her cheeks like the fires of Kossuth.
He chuckled. “Well I feel I should tell you something Briar.”
“That you are going to have to shred my soul?
“That I am not chaste.”

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